Democrat on Capitol riot select committee says Pence’s role will be investigated

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Vice President Mike Pence was seen by some Trump allies as having the power to stop the election certification  (Getty Images)
Vice President Mike Pence was seen by some Trump allies as having the power to stop the election certification (Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence’s actions leading up to the certification of the election results on 6 January will be investigated by the House select committee probing the attack on the US Capitol, one of its members says.

Rep Jamie Raskin, a Democrat on the committee, told The Washington Post in an interview that Mr Pence’s role is important to understand as the American public should be aware how close the US came to a successful extralegal effort to overturn the will of the American people.

Of special interest to the committee was a recent investigation by The New York Times of the role of John Eastman, a lawyer who previously worked on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election’s results. The Times found that Mr Pence and Mr Eastman met with Mr Trump in the Oval Office to discuss a plan in which Mr Pence would declare the Electoral College ballots of states that were accused by the Trump campaign to be fraudulent once their corresponding state legislatures had appointed an alternate slate of electors.

Mr Eastman told the Times that Mr Pence sought to be convinced by Mr Eastman in subsequent conversations that he had the legal authority to do what Mr Trump was asking: halt his defeat.

The vice president and his aides “continued to meet with me and push back on the arguments and hear my counters, what have you, to try and see whether they could reconcile themselves to what the president had asked,” Mr Eastman told the Times.

Those alternate slates of electors were never appointed, and Mr Pence ultimately made no effort on the Senate floor to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory following the assault on the US Capitol.

But how far Mr Pence went to carry out that plan, Mr Raskin told the Post, was important for Americans to understand.

“It’s an important part of the historical record to determine how close Trump actually came to achieving his scheme of getting Pence to declare unilateral power to reject electoral college votes,” he said.

The House select committee probing the 6 January attack on the Capitol has laboured for months and is set for a showdown with former Trump administration officials for their communication records and reports of their actions leading up to the siege. Congress has the power to issue subpoenas for information from former federal officials, but Mr Trump and others are expected to make time-consuming legal claims of executive privilege to deny the panel’s request.

Republicans except for Rep Adam Kinzinger and the committee’s vice chair, Rep Liz Cheney, left the select panel earlier this year amid a dispute with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over appointments for membership; Rep Cheney has vocally accused House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of attempting to stonewall any investigation into the 6 January attack and excuse the former president for his actions.

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